Parrot's Asteroid app platform lands in Volvo dashboards

Parrot and Volvo partner to adapt the Android-powered Asteroid infotainment platform and its accompanying app market for use in Volvo cars.

2013 Volvo XC60
The Volvo XC60 and its ilk will soon feature Android-powered infotainment thanks to Parrot. Josh Miller/CNET

Parrot's bringing the lessons learned when developing its Asteroid series of car stereos to the next generation of Volvo cars with the Android-based Sensus Connected Touch platform.

Like the Parrot Asteroid Smart that I recently reviewed, the Sensus Connected Touch is a touch-screen interface that is based on a heavily modified version of Android (likely version 2.3) and will connect to the Internet via a Bluetooth-paired smartphone, Wi-Fi tethered access point, or USB-connected 3G/4G dongle. Also like the Asteroid Smart, Sensus will give its users access to a variety of vehicle specific apps available in Parrot's Asteroid Market , including music on-demand services such as Spotify and Deezer, Internet radio via TuneIn, turn-by-turn navigation by iGO Primo, and speed trap and road hazard warnings through the Coyote Series and Wikango HD apps. As the Asteroid Market's selection of apps grows (which Parrot assures us will happen), so will the Sensus system's available functions.

Parrot Asteroid Smart
The recently reviewed Parrot Asteroid Smart is our best indicator of what to expect from Sensus Connected Touch. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Local audio sources, such as USB, iPod, SD card, and Bluetooth, will also be supported.

Sensus Connected Touch also has a few new tricks up its sleeve that are not present on the aftermarket Asteroid Smart unit. For example, Parrot SmartLink app allows Sensus to mirror the mobile phone's display to access apps running there. Volvo-specific features include a Volvo Service Locator that helps the driver locate the nearest dealership when needed.

When the vehicle is parked, Sensus will allow the driver to view photos and video stored on local sources, surf the Internet with its full Android Web browser, check e-mail, and manage contacts and calendar events.

Being based on Android should give Sensus the same multitasking advantage that an Android smartphone offers. So, you should be able to click an address in the calendar app and send the location to iGo for navigation without interrupting the audio stream from Spotify.

The Sensus Connected Touch system will be available as an option for new Volvo models in May of this year. More interestingly, we're told that the system is also compatible with and can be retrofitted to older Volvo cars (model year 2011+) that use the previous-generation, 7-inch Sensus infotainment system. I'm looking forward to putting it through its paces later this year.

 

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